Cultivating Change

What do you do when healthy food is hard to find? In west Baltimore, high school students are growing it for themselves―and finding their place in the food system.

Green Street Academy instructor and students

Green Street Academy

Public charter high school, Baltimore

Green Street Academy students develop academic and career skills by working through projects, launching entrepreneurial ventures, and learning new technologies. In the Ninth Baltimore City Council District, where the school is located, more than half of residents face food insecurity. Green Street Academy is home to Food Computer Program.

Explore Green Street Academy

Melanie Shimano

Founder, Food Computer Program

In Shimano’s Food Computer Program, high school students at Green Street Academy in west Baltimore have built food computers and taught younger kids at other schools how to do the same. Shimano and her pupils are showing their community a healthier way to eat by sharing what they grow―and what they learn.

Explore the Food Computer Program

melanie shimano founder food computer program
Holly Freishtat baltimore food policy director

Holly Freishtat

Food policy director, City of Baltimore

Freishtat leads the Baltimore Food Policy Initiative, an effort uniting several city departments to improve citizens’ health by making nutritious food more accessible. Initiative projects include expanding acceptance of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits in the city.

Explore the Baltimore Food Policy Initiative

Raspberry Pi

Tiny but powerful and deliciously named, the Raspberry Pi is the brains of the food computer. In Melanie’s classroom, it’s connected to a fan to cool the food computer, to an adjustable temperature sensor, and to a customizable grow light that changes based on each plant’s needs. And of course, all the code that controls these functions is open source.

Get started with Raspberry Pi

raspberry pi food computer controller
food computers

Food computers

A food computer is essentially a tabletop garden. It’s a foam box that contains everything a plant could need to grow and thrive: water, food, light, and a controlled climate. A small computer called a Raspberry Pi controls all those elements via a network of sensors, lights, and fans. Students at Green Street Academy have built a hydroponic system using plans for an affordable food computer.

Get plans to build your own on GitHub

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